Category Archives: Psychiatry & Psychology

Seasonal affective disorder: feeling down when the temperatures drop

Do you start feeling down in the winter months? You aren’t alone. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, presents as a variety of depression-like symptoms caused by your body getting out of its biological rhythm. Winter-onset SAD (the most common type) results from your body “losing its bearings” during the period of reduced daylight. Without sunlight to give your hormones a clue about the natural dawn-dusk cycle, your body’s chemical levels become unbalanced.

Especially if your work routine means arriving at and leaving the office when it’s dark outside, your body may be producing too much melatonin or too little serotonin, hormones involved in your body’s sleep-wake cycle. This kind of imbalance produces the slew of possible symptoms:

  • Fatigue and drop in energy levels
  • A tendency to oversleep
  • Change in appetite, like cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Heightened sensitivity to social rejection
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Physical problems, like headaches

While 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States suffer some SAD symptoms (called the “winter blues”), only four to six percent of people meet all the criteria of SAD diagnoses. SAD is more common in women than in men and generally shows in people at least 20 years of age. The risk increases for adults with age or for those that live in regions where winters are long and harsh.

Luckily, there are ways to combat SAD. Melatonin supplements and light therapy (intentionally exposing yourself to more sunlight) are ways of treating SAD. Melatonin is the hormone that your body starts producing when it gets dark in order to prepare you for sleep. Ensuring that your melatonin levels rise and fall on the proper timeline can offset SAD. Light therapy involves using daylight-simulating devices for certain periods of time each day to reach the same goal, and exposure to actual sunlight will do this naturally.

Antidepressants may also be used in some cases, as many antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by helping to restore serotonin hormone balance.

If you have concerns about seasonal affective disorder or believe you are experiencing symptoms, be sure to discuss it with your health care provider. Visit our website or call (563) 584-3000 to schedule an appointment with Medical Associates today.

Note: SAD may share many symptoms with major depression or dysthymia. Call a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
Medical Associates 24-hour HELP Nurse: 1 (800) 325-7442

 

 

Source links:
Mayo Clinic
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Mental Health

What you need to know about Antidepressants

Antidepressant medications are effective for depression, anxiety, and some pain conditions. However, they might be slower to become effective than other medications that you may have taken. Researchers are uncertain why these medications take weeks to reach effectiveness, but your patience and adherence with taking your antidepressant daily is an important part of getting well. Some patients improve in a couple weeks, and others may not fully respond for 6 to 12 weeks. Not only is the time that you’ve taken the antidepressant important in evaluating your response, each antidepressant has a range of dosages and your healthcare provider may consider dosage increase or other strategies if you are not responding as expected. It’s important to keep follow-up appointments and discuss your response (or lack of response) to the antidepressant medication with your prescriber. Your healthcare provider has other treatment options including increasing the medication dosage, switching to a different antidepressant, adding another medication, or adding psychotherapy.

All medications have potential adverse effects and current commonly prescribed antidepressants have low risk for serious negative effects. Often, mild nausea, dry mouth, headache, bowel habit change, or sleep disturbance are signs that the medication is starting to take effect and these effects frequently go away after a few weeks. If you are concerned that you are experiencing intolerable side effects, or don’t think that you want to continue taking the antidepressant medication, you should contact your prescriber to discuss your concerns. Abrupt discontinuation of some antidepressants can result in unpleasant withdrawal-like symptoms, and some patients develop sudden worsening.

Alcohol and recreational drug use can negatively affect the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Alcohol and sedatives are powerful drugs that cause depression, and sometimes rebound anxiety, so that antidepressants don’t work very well. Your healthcare provider can more effectively help you if you are open about your alcohol and other drug use.

Once you’ve responded well to antidepressant medication, follow your prescriber’s recommendations for maintenance treatment.

Increasingly, research has found that depression, anxiety, and pain are chronic or recurring conditions over a lifetime, so that the illness is better managed by maintaining on the full dosage that was initially effective. Each individual has personal factors that can be discussed with your healthcare provider to develop your best treatment plan.

 

lee, yasyn
Dr. Yasyn Lee, Psychiatrist
Medical Associates Clinic

 

 

 

The Department of Psychiatry & Psychology is made up of a specialized support team trained to care for individuals of all ages with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral concerns. Our board-certified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistant, along with our licensed psychologists, provide services that span the full range of mental health disorders and behavior problems. Please call 563-584-3500 or visit our website for more information. 

Seasonal affective disorder: feeling down when the temperatures drop

Do you start feeling down in the winter months? You aren’t alone. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, presents as a variety of depression-like symptoms caused by your body getting out of its biological rhythm. Winter-onset SAD (the most common type) results from your body “losing its bearings” during the period of reduced daylight. Without sunlight to give your hormones a clue about the natural dawn-dusk cycle, your body’s chemical levels become unbalanced.

Especially if your work routine means arriving at and leaving the office when it’s dark outside, your body may be producing too much melatonin or too little serotonin, hormones involved in your body’s sleep-wake cycle. This kind of imbalance produces the slew of possible symptoms:

Fatigue and drop in energy levels
A tendency to oversleep
Change in appetite, like cravings
Weight gain
Difficulty concentrating
Irritability and anxiety
Antisocial behavior
Heightened sensitivity to social rejection
Lack of interest in normal activities
Feelings of guilt
Feelings of hopelessness
Physical problems, like headaches

While 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States suffer some SAD symptoms (called the “winter blues”), only four to six percent of people meet all the criteria of SAD diagnoses, and the majority of sufferers are women. SAD generally shows in people at least 20 years of age, and risk increases as they get older or if they live in a region where winters are long and harsh.

Luckily, there are ways to combat SAD. Melatonin supplements, light therapy or intentionally exposing yourself to more sunlight are all ways of treating SAD. Melatonin is the hormone that your body starts producing when it gets dark in order to prepare you for sleep. Ensuring that your melatonin levels rise and fall on the proper timeline can offset SAD. Light therapy involves using daylight-simulating devices for certain periods of time each day to reach the same goal, and exposure to actual sunlight will do this naturally.

Antidepressants may also be used in some cases, as many antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by helping to restore serotonin hormone balance.

If you have concerns about seasonal affective disorder or believe you are experiencing symptoms, be sure to discuss it with your health care provider. Visit our website or call (563) 584-3000 to schedule an appointment with Medical Associates today.

 

Note: SAD may share many symptoms with major depression or dysthymia. Call a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
Medical Associates 24-hour HELP Nurse: 1 (800) 325-7442